Haru Day 8 Preview – Nakabi!

Welcome to the middle day of the Osaka Haru basho. So far it’s been a bit of an odd little tournament, and we find ourselves half way between shonichi and the awarding of the Emperor’s Cup with no Yokozuna, one Ozeki facing almost certain demotion, and a leaderboard populated with names that will soon be out of the running.

If you are the kind to be awake in the middle of the night (at least US time) you can catch live streaming of the last hour (or so) of the today’s action on NHK World Japan, starting at around 4 AM Eastern US time, 1 AM Pacific. Before I had a young child in my life, I would typically make a point to watch at least a couple of days live, and Nakabi is a fine choice for that.

But with day 8 upon us, it’s time for Tachiai’s leaderboard

Haru Leaderboard

In my mind, the yusho race will not really get started until someone manages to put dirt on Takayasu. Be aware, I am a fan of his, but I think the chances of him going 15-0 are quite slim, and I am quite sure that if we get to act three, and he is 10-0, he will face some fierce opponents. The one to watch right now is Mitakeumi, he sometimes struggles into week 2, but if he can stay strong, he is my favorite to pick up a second consecutive Emperor’s cup. Before anyone starts talking about a rope run, the answer is “not yet”.

Leader: Takayasu
Hunt Group: Mitakeumi, Wakatakakage, Kotonowaka
Chasers: Takakeisho, Abi, Kiribayama, Endo, Wakamotoharu, Nishikigi

8 matches remain

What We Are Watching Day 8

Azumaryu vs Kotokuzan – With the torikumi out of balance, we are back to having visitors from Juryo. Today its Azumaryu, who stands a fair chance of kachi-koshi with at 5-2 recored to start day 8. A winning record will at least start the notion that he could return to the top division for May, provided enough promotion slots open up in Makuuchi.

Tochinoshin vs Yutakayama – The one thing to know about this match? Yutakayama: 4 consecutive losses. I am not a huge fan of Tochinoshin’s new street-fighter sumo, but I have to admit, it has left his opponents cautions and bit more pliable then normal. Should he hit his 8 this time out, it would be a welcome change of pace for the former Ozeki.

Chiyomaru vs Kagayaki – Kagayaki reverted to his vague and less powerful form on day 7, and I have to hope he can rally for today’s fight against the bulbous Chiyomaru. Both of these guys are riding the make/kachi-koshi line, and are ripe to be fed into Darwin’s funnel, should the schedulers decide to run one. They share an 8=8 career record, perfect for day 8. Man, these scheduler guys are having far too much fun with numbers.

Kotoeko vs Nishikigi – Kotoeko should take this one, giving Nishikigi his 3rd loss. Kotoeko holds a 4-0 career advantage over Nishikigi, so I think that Kotoeko’s size, strength and speed are a potent combination against Nishikigi’s deliberate, sturdy sumo.

Ichiyamamoto vs Chiyotairyu – Oh, great sumo cat, I beseech thee. Let Chiyotairyu unleash his thunder-god sumo again today. I would dearly love to see Ichiyamamoto receive a right proper crumpling in the lap of Dr. Takasu. Amen.

Myogiryu vs Akua – I am guessing Akua is hurt again, because he’s fighting like crap. That’s why we don’t have Akua every tournament, he struggles to maintain consistency. Myogiryu holds a 2-0 career advantage over him, and I am going to guess he may rack up so many losses, that he is named captain of the Juryo barge.

Kotoshoho vs Terutsuyoshi – Terutsuyoshi fusensho over the kyujo Chiyonokuni means he got a day of rest, nearly in the middle of the tournament. I hope it energized him, as I think this match was designed to be an even battle. Both are 4-3, they have a 2-2 career record, and I think we will see some nice sumo from Terutsuyoshi today.

Chiyoshoma vs Aoiyama – Chiyoshoma is having a tough tournament. I don’t know if its injury, loss of stamina, or he just can’t manage sumo at this rank right now. He has a 5-3 career advantage over “Big Dan” Aoiyama. Aoiyama, at 3-4, is also a prime funnel candidate, should the choose to run one this March.

Shimanoumi vs Sadanoumi – This is the point where some may choose to go relieve themselves, or grab an additional beer. I have enjoyed Sadanoumi’s sumo when he has been fighting well in prior tournaments, and I just have to hope that maybe he can get something organized here starting today. Yea, I am an optimist.

Takayasu vs Wakamotoharu – I look at this match and kind of wonder why. Sure Wakamotoharu has been fighting well, and has some great sumo this March. But this is a first time match against yusho early leader Takayasu. I would bet a donut that Wakamotoharu is going to go chest to chest, Takayasu will accept, and he will just stand there and wear him to a frazzle. Well, it has been a while since we have seen Takayasu just grind someone down for 3 minutes or so until they are begging for him to finish the match.

Hokutofuji vs Tobizaru – Hokutofuji has little time for the simian antics of Tobizaru. I predict handshake tachiai, nodowa to keep him from hopping about, and a rapid removal from the field of play. He has a 4-0 career advantage over Tobizaru, and this is normally how it goes.

Takarafuji vs Okinoumi – A match of great sadness. Both wonderful rikishi, both with crummy 1-6 records. At least we know one of them will be 2-6 after today. They have 27 matches over their career, but Takarafuji’s 16-11 advantage matters little when both of them are probably injured, and fighting this poorly.

Kotonowaka vs Endo – You know, I had no idea how much I wanted to see this match until I read the torikumi for day 8. What a delight. Endo has a chance to go 4-0 against Kotonowaka, and Kotonowaka has a chance to show the world just how much his sumo has improved since the last time they fought in May of 2021.

Meisei vs Tamawashi – Right now, Meisei can’t buy a win. I don’t think he will last more than a few second against Tamawashi, who is not at his career best, but good enough to rough up a likely injured, smaller rikishi.

Takanosho vs Ichinojo – I would like to think that Takanosho can soften his fall down the banzuke by picking up more wins, but then I see he’s fighting Ichinojo today, and I have to think again. Ichinojo, while not quite in his best form, is good enough that he’s causing all kinds of damage in the joi-jin. He beat both kadoban Ozeki, and even trashed Endo pretty effectively.

Wakatakakage vs Ura – Speaking of Ura…. At 1-6 he’s going to take a trip south on the banzuke way come May. But I think he can still cook up a couple of nice surprise wins. But he had better start soon, his only victory was against the covid depleted husk of Shodai. Will Wakatakakage try another flying genital attack? No, dear readers, those spectacular moment come once every 15 years or so.

Daieisho vs Abi – Still waiting to see if Daieisho shows up with massive taping over his crotch from that throw by Wakatakakage on day 7. Even if his man-bits survived intact, his pride may have taken significant damage. He will now live with the fact that he may be immortalized on preview “B-roll” footage for sumo shows for years to come. He has a 6-6 record against Abi, who will be hard pressed to overcome Daieisho’s more powerful, more focused oshi-zumo style.

Shodai vs Kiribayama – (sigh), ah.. Shodai. 2-5, you should go home and prep for Ozeki-wake. Its looking more certain each day. Not your fault sir, but there is still time to recover.

Hoshoryu vs Mitakeumi – Back to the fun side of sumo, it’s time for Mitakeumi to either crank up the power or start his week 2 fade. Frankly, I want him and Takayasu bashing it out in act 3 for sole leader position with just a day or two to go before senshuraku. Hoshoryu has not beaten Mitakeumi in 2 attempts, so this will be a tough match for him.

Onosho vs Takakeisho – Another fine tadpole battle, this time the junior tadpole against the grand tadpole. Onosho has actually won 3 times out of the 12 matches he has had against Takakeisho, so it won’t be completely one sided. However, I think that Takakeisho is done with the unexplainable sumo experiments, and is just going for double arm wave action tsuppari from here on out.

Nagoya Day 8 Preview

Day 8 Dohyo Iri

Can you believe we are at the middle day of the Nagoya basho? Welcome to nakabi! (The name for the middle day of the tournament). Nagoya has been brutal to the upper ranks, and as of day 8, there is only a 25% participation rate, down from the 40% participation rate of Natsu, and that’s even with adding a new Ozeki! With 4 of the Yokozuna / Ozeki (or maybe Yokozeki?) corps out of action, it’s almost certain the yusho winner will be someone who has never received the Emperor’s Cup before.

After day 7, there are 4 rikishi with 0 or 1 loss. Mitakeumi is alone at the head of the pack, and both Maegashira 6 rikishi trail him with 1 loss apiece. Joining the 1 loss group is Asanoyama all the way back at Maegashira 13 West. Both Ozeki are nursing 2 or 3 losses, and are likely focusing on the safety of kachi-koshi first and foremost. But having reached the middle day, the bias of the torikumi will change. Had much of the joi survived, the upper ranks would focus on fighting each other, having consumed their appetizers and warm ups of the top ranked Maegashira. But with the upper ranks mostly sitting out, the entire final week’s schedule has all of the grace and structure of a 40 car pileup in the fog.

With us reaching nakabi, it’s time for the leaderboard!

Nagoya Leaderboard

Leader – Mitakeumi
Chasers – Endo, Chiyotairyu, Asanoyama
HuntersTakayasu, Kaisei, Myogiryu, Tochiozan, Hokutofuji

8 Matches Remain.

What We Are Watching Day 8

Kotoeko vs Ryuden – Both of these men can deliver fairly strong sumo, but both of them are now clearly in the danger zone. Their career records tie them at 1-1.

Tochiozan vs Hokutofuji – Both of these men are the “hottest” streaks at in the bottom third of the banzuke, coming in at 5-2. But of course the schedulers want to make sure that one of them eats dirt and the yusho race narrows still further. Although Hokutofuji leads their career series 2-1, I give a clear edge to Tochiozan who seems to have gotten back into his sumo.

Sadanoumi vs Meisei – Two more in the danger zone. With a number of strong performers in Juryo as of the middle day, its possible we could see a formula for a mighty churn between the two divisions for Aki.

Ishiura vs Arawashi – There is only one way this match should go: Double Henka.

Aoiyama vs Asanoyama – Reports from Japan state that Aoiyama may have injured his hand as he feel forward following the Ishiura henka on Day 7. Asanoyama does have a formula for beating the massive Bulgarian, and has done so twice. But given how Nagoya is going, maybe Aoiyama goes kyujo as well.

Okinoumi vs Onosho – I think Onosho is starting to really get his rhythm, and we may see him disrupt and overpower Okinoumi on day 8. Okinoumi’s sumo is always very efficient, and he clearly enters each match with a few plans to try. But if Onosho uses the “hybrid sumo” he unleashed on day 7, he will be tough to beat. Onosho won their only prior match.

Takarafuji vs Nishikigi – Nishikigi is really fading right now, and going up against Takarafuji may not help. He is 0-3 against the man with no neck.

Endo vs Myogiryu – This is a big match for a number of reasons. Their career record is 3-3, but Endo has won the last 2. Both are fighting well this tournament, and Endo really wants to remain 1 loss behind the leader, as chances are someone will put dirt on Mitakeumi. Endo’s sumo has been excellent in Nagoya, so this match could be the highlight of the day.

Yutakayama vs Chiyotairyu – When his sumo is in harmony, Chiyotairyu is tough to beat unless you can stay upright and in the ring for more than 10 seconds. That is likely Yutakayama’s game plan. If he can absorb the cannon ball tachiai, he just have to stalemate him until Chiyotairyu starts to run out of gas. Good luck Yutakayama!

Daishomaru vs Kyokutaisei – Kyokutaisei is 2 losses away from make-koshi, and he desperately needs wins. He holds a 3-0 career advantage over Daishomaru, so maybe he has a chance.

Chiyoshoma vs Yoshikaze – A loss today and my favorite rikishi goes make-koshi.

Ikioi vs Abi – On day 7, Abi tried to tackle a freight train. Hopefully he was able to put himself back together, as his day 8 match has more potential for good sumo. Ikioi is a tough fighter who will likely not fall for Abi’s “go high” opening gambit. I would look for Ikioi to focus center mass and remove much of Abi’s mobility. This is their first career match.

Tamawashi vs Shodai – Shodai gets discouraged, and then his sumo goes soft and stale. I would guess given the beating he took week one that he might be feeling a little down. Sadly Tamawashi probably did not bake him any cookies, so he will have to settle for piping hot tsuppari straight from the oven.

Kotoshogiku vs Shohozan – Both Komusubi have taken a right proper beating this tournament, as is typically the case. Now Shohozan starts fighting down the banzuke, and he has a chance to get the 7 wins in 8 days needed to maintain his rank. Kotoshogiku is moving well, but seems to lack about 5%-10% of the power needed to win.

Ichinojo vs Takakeisho – Takakeisho likes to confound Ichinojo, run him amok and push him out with his two hand thrusts. Ichinojo has been hit or miss, and mostly miss so far.

Chiyonokuni vs Mitakeumi – Chiyonokuni has never beaten Mitakeumi in 7 attempts. But this guy is a giant-killer when he can get his sumo to click. Mitakeumi has been impressively patient and well orchestrated in his sumo thus far. But the chaos of Chiyonokuni may disrupt him and find him in trouble.

Goeido vs Kaisei – Good chance that Goeido will get lost in this match. His blistering speed will be blunted by Kaisei’s overwhelming bulk. When faced with complex sumo problems, Goeido frequently resorts to pulling, which frequently spell his doom. +100 points if Kaisei henkas Goeido.

Kagayaki vs Takayasu – I expect Takayasu will tenderize Kagayaki before slicing him thin and serving him shabu-shabu style with sweet chili paste. As much as I love Kagayaki’s school of sumo, there comes a time when a giant hairy man moving at speed cannot be overcome by technical means. This is their first ever match.